Gatwick looks to grow through single runway as traffic rises

Marion Dakers
GATWICK executives talked up the airport’s chances of competing with London’s biggest hubs yesterday as the firm posted rising revenues and traffic.

Britain’s second-biggest airport said passengers rose 1.2 per cent on last year to 19.9m in the half-year to the end of September. Turnover jumped 3.6 per cent to £325.8m, helped in part by an increase in retail sales.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 4.8 per cent to £172m.

Chief financial officer Nick Dunn said Gatwick was happy with the figures, given that traffic was flat during the Olympics, when Brits stayed at home to watch the competition.

Dunn expects traffic to pick up next year, partly due to new routes to Korea, Russia and China.

He added that while rival hub Heathrow is close to capacity, Gatwick has enough slack in its single runway to increase traffic to as many as 45m passengers a year. This would require larger planes and more off-peak flights, he added.

“We see Gatwick as a very credible and, in our eyes, the best option to expand in the south east,” he told City A.M. “I think a vibrant and competitive set of airports is the best way to deliver customer choice.”

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate is due to appear before the transport select committee on Monday to discuss Britain’s long-term aviation plans.

Wingate said yesterday that the UK should be aiming for a New York-style transport system, where double-runway airports Newark and La Guardia compete with the larger JFK hub.

The airport last month revealed it hoped to build a long-mooted second runway after a deal with Sussex County Council expires in 2019.